Friday, November 7, 2014

Happy Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving

"Thanksgiving Turkey" by tuchodi is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The holidays can be a stressful time of the year, especially if you’re living on a tight budget. In addition to your regular monthly spending, there are also presents, decorations and extra outings to take into account. The holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving, so let’s explore how to save money on this holiday so you have a little more to spend on Christmas. Try these tips from Apartment Guide:

Handling the Turkey
Many grocery stores run promotions on their turkeys, offering them up as loss leaders. The turkeys are a standard part of the Thanksgiving dinner, so you’re going to buy one no matter what.

The grocery stores want to get you in the door to purchase all the extra fixings that go along with this meal. Some stores offer free turkeys if you have enough reward points through their programs, while others price their turkeys at under $1 per pound.

If you have the space in your fridge and you don’t mind waiting for the turkey to thaw, get even more for your money by opting for frozen turkey. It takes a few days to completely thaw a turkey, so keep that in mind if you want to go this route. Avoid running the turkey under water to thaw it out, as this results in a dangerous temperature level for food safety.

Keep an Eye on Coupons
Another way to cut down on your Thanksgiving meal costs is by maximizing coupon use for your local stores. Check the grocery store sites and manufacturers’ websites the closer you get to Thanksgiving. Wait for your grocery stores to coupon match existing coupons so you get double the value.

Create a Meal Plan
Before heading to the grocery store, create a complete meal plan so you don’t end up purchasing far more than what you actually need. When you purchase only what you need, you won’t have to worry about significant food waste after the festivities.

After all, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to deal with in the week after. Another benefit of creating a meal plan is having a concise grocery list to consult when you’re making your purchases. To save the most amount of time, organize your grocery list according to the aisles in your store.

Skip the Boxed Options
Boxed and prepackaged sides are tempting when you’re cooking for a large group, but creating everything from scratch is less expensive, healthier and gives you better control over what you’re putting in the food.

Stock up on ingredients such as butter, flour, eggs, sugar, bread and other essentials necessary for creating classic Thanksgiving dishes. Many recipe sites provide step-by-step instructions, or even videos, to help with creating these dishes. You don’t have to be a master chef to create a memorable Thanksgiving for your friends and family at your apartment.

Understand Your In-Season Options
One thing that drives up your costs is attempting to buy produce out of season. Not only do you get lower quality produce, you’re also paying a premium because it is shipped across the country, or even internationally.

Watch for the in-season options in your area, such as Brussels sprouts and other late harvest vegetables. If you must have something not in season, go to your frozen food section. These vegetables are flash frozen when harvested, so they are at peak quality compared to the out-of-season produce offerings.

The exact type of produce available varies based on your geographic location, and if you’re lucky, there may be a farmers markets continuing into November to provide you with farm-fresh produce.

Consider a Thanksgiving Meal Potluck
Want to really cut down on the cost without asking your friends and family to pitch in monetarily? Ask them to bring side dishes, drinks or desserts for a Thanksgiving potluck. A potluck is also great if you have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or friends with other dietary restrictions who worry they won’t have anything to eat beyond a veggie platter at your dinner.

If possible, create a collaborative list so all your guests see who is bringing what to your get together. With a collaborative list, you won’t end up with three bowls of pasta salad and no extra desserts. Handle the basics yourself, such as the Thanksgiving turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

What tips do you have to offer on saving during Thanksgiving?


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